Mugs of RoC- Heather, CEO & Co-Founder

Mugs of RoC- Heather, CEO & Co-Founder

With a look of defiance, the precocious fair-skinned, nine-month-old finagled her way out of her diaper, “No more!” she commanded. As she stretched out her little arm through the crib railings handing the wrinkled diaper over to her mother in her self-proclaimed declaration of potty readiness. In this radical act her mother understood she wasn’t raising an ordinary little girl, and the young girl didn’t know that many years later, her second son would rely on her renegade spirit to turn to cannabis to keep him alive in a climate devoid of options.

She could have stopped there, but her even-handed, egalitarian nature felt indignant that a zip code could determine whether people live or die, and what health options might be available to them. Thus, Heather Jackson, Co-Founder, and CEO of Realm of Caring, begun to change the world.

Today she sits across from me in her large corner office in Colorado Springs holding in her right hand - not a diaper - but a large hand-thrown mug with a greenish, bluish glaze with a small shell at the top of the handle which provides a resting place for her thumb. In the front, it has a circle with a mushroom-shaped home and in the middle, it says, “Earth Ship”. Somehow, I don’t picture her living, off the grid in the plains of New Mexico, but one thing I have learned about her is that she is not stereotypical in any way.

“I have a passion for yurts,” she says her face lighting up at the thought. "Big ones, small ones, how they are constructed, what they are made out of; I have researched everything there is to know about Yurts." Dumbfounded, I think to myself, well, she just may live off the grid in an Earthship someday after all.

The underlying theme, however, is that she is a researcher, a documenter and unusually fair - able to see all sides of an equation. Her team often refers to her as fearless - “Our fearless leader” we’ve coined her. Is she truly fearless? Of course not, I presume; who is? She has a productive ability to channel her fear into research, as there is power in knowledge. I also admire that “fear” fuels her, rather than blocks her, and onward she goes, rarely looking back, with us at her heels trying to keep pace.

I now turn my attention back to her as her recently exposed silver curls are back-lit from her westward facing window and she sits expectantly, broad-smiled and eyes twinkling.

My attention is redirected to the lofty mug she cradles in-between both hands with much affection.

Tell me about it, I say.

Heather is amongst many things, a great storyteller. When she speaks, you are transported into her world as it is hard NOT to feel her child-like enthusiasm in each word. Today is no exception as she inches forward in her seat as she excitedly recounts a visit to a dwelling made of mud-covered tires, shaped like a mushroom (she gestured grandly with her hands and I can see the curvature of the structure against the arid backdrop of the desert), with her husband in Taos, New Mexico. The adventure, a first for them, warranted a keepsake - the mug - which explains why she holds it so lovingly in her hands.

Tell me something about yourself that nobody knows - besides your intrigue in yurts, that is.

"I am a closet introvert," she discloses quite frankly.

The key word in this statement is clearly “CLOSET” as nothing about Heather is in any way, shape or form quiet, demure, timid, shy, wallflower-like or even remotely close! Reading my thoughts, she tilts her head down a bit and looks up slightly at me as if admitting to a secret, and in a way of an explanation, offers.

“What we do here is so public”, she admits, "and I am so transparent and candid with our story... I might be the person on Friday night that would say to a Saturday invitation, What time?… What should I bring?... And then.. have no intention on going," she says blurting out in laughter. "Instead, I would be happily curled up on my couch. Isn’t that terrible?!" She looks at me shamefully.

I don’t find that terrible at all as there is even a name for it: Ambivert. Take this quiz to find out if you are one too.

What is the title of the current chapter in your life?
“Hustle and flow,” she says without thinking.

I love dichotomies, and that is a great one!

What age do you want to live to?
“Hmm.. until there is no potential left in me... Not sure how old that will be.”

What do you wish your brain was better at doing?
"Remembering names, I can remember the flecks of gold in somebody’s eyes, the location of their freckles on their face, but I can’t remember their names!"

Why do you like working at the Realm?
"Many people don’t know that I have worked since I was eleven; I used to have a paper route with the Gazette newspaper. For the first time, my passion and my profession are able to mesh. It doesn’t feel like work. I know that Zaki wouldn’t be here... and then he is. Unless you can really fathom that, wrap your heart, and wrap your mind around that, you may not understand. It’s how I make meaning of Zaki’s suffering and secondly, my family’s suffering for a decade."

Heather moves on to mention a book by Viktor Frankl called Man's Search for Meaning which basically states that unless you can assign meaning to your suffering you are not going to make it.

"RoC is how I have assigned meaning to our suffering."

What is your particular gift that you bring to the world?
She pauses for a long time… then finally says, “Wow! What a great question, I think." She pauses longer. “Love” she finally says, "there is nothing else.. an overflowing, bubbling-up, and abundant love for people who are.. umm.. hurting.. and, are lost... and, maybe, suffering. Love is truly a verb, love does, love DOES, it’s a working… it’s grinding your knuckles to the bone."

"In church, people used to say, 'I’ll pray for ya' and I was like, 'I’ll pray for ya, and here is a meal, and I’m going to keep doing things for you until you tell me to stop.'”

I smile because Heather manifests her love in a way that you can taste it, smell it and most certainly, feel it. 

Okay, one last question: What is one of your favorite song lyrics? And who is it by?
"Umm.. my favorite is a song by Ben Harper called With my own two hands."

I can change the world with my own two hands

Make it a better place with my own two hands

Make it a kinder place, oh with my, oh with my own two hands

With my own, with my own two hands

With my own, with my own two hands

I could make peace on earth with my own two hands

And I could clean up the earth Lord with my own two hands

And I can reach out to You oh with my own two hands

With my own, with my own two hands

With my own, with my own two hands

I'm gonna make it a brighter place With my own

I'm gonna make it a safer place With my own

I'm gonna help the human race With my own, with my own two hands.

I look at her hands, the light fading behind her hair, the shine in her eyes and I think to myself, that is exactly what she is doing until "there is no potential left" in her.